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‘Redeeming Love’ a steamy Bible story

'Redeeming Love’

In theaters

Alexa Chipman

The trailer looks like a cookie-cutter historical romance, conveniently released in theaters for an early Valentine’s Day date night.

That is not what “Redeeming Love” turns out to be.

It did not take long to realize that the movie — adapted from the bestselling novel by Santa Rosa author Francine Rivers — is an adaptation of the book of “Hosea,” from the Bible. In that often overlooked tale, a prophet is called to marry a prostitute who runs away to ply her trade. Their relationship is generally interpreted as a symbol of God’s unconditional love.

This version is a retelling from the woman’s perspective as she struggles to break free of a life she was forced into as a child. Loosely set during the Gold Rush era (the costumes are generic “old-fashioned” and not from an actual time period), this sensually compelling film captivated me in the first few minutes.

So, is it preachy and religious?

No. Director D.J. Caruso went more “Game of Thrones” than “King of Kings” here, and does not shy away from nudity and gritty violence. There are beautifully moving prayers scattered at key moments, but they flowed so well with the emotion of the scenes that I barely noticed.

Thumbs Up emoji (Millennials Talk Cinema)
Thumbs Up emoji (Millennials Talk Cinema)

The entire cast is outstanding.

Abigail Cowen (yes, the all-powerful daughter of Satan herself, from “The Chilling Tales of Sabrina”) gives a nuanced performance as Angel, the haunted prostitute who struggles to find her place in the world. “The Vampire Diaries” fans will recognize Nina Dobrev, who has a brief but memorable role as Angel’s mother. Eric Dane (Dr. Sloan on “Gray’s Anatomy”) struts his stuff as the sinister brothel owner Duke, and newcomer Tom Lewis is adorably wholesome as Michael Hosea (Peckham in “A Discovery of Witches”).

“Redeeming Love” is not perfect. Beyond the costuming issues, there are several unfortunate choices of racial stereotypes, such as the Irish prostitute “Lucky” who is always drinking.

I was expecting a fluffy romance with a dash of melodrama. Instead, I found myself immersed in a sexy, theological-inspired film that had me in tears by the end.

It doesn’t matter if you are a Bible-believer or not, this is a heartwarming love story that would be a perfect date night, whether you see it in theaters now or wait until it ends up on Netflix someday.

[Suggested Emojis: Thumbs Up, Bible-swearing Emoji]

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